Mechanic How To: Diagnose a Short Circuit


When a circuit is short it can cause a fuse to blow and create an open circuit

When it comes to electrical diagnosis, accessing and understanding common open circuits is a necessary step to fixing problems yourself. With a little help from a high-quality DVOM, some basic understanding of diagrams and some diligence, one can effectively determine differences between open and short circuits to maintain and restore fuses and other systematic areas prone to short-circuiting.

Short circuits are annoying to diagnose, and they occur when an electrical current flows into the ground rather than throughout a load. Due to the path’s ground direction, it maintains significantly less resistance than a load. While electricity doesn’t always take such a route, it will with an increased current. When it does, a blown fuse is a typical result. Blown circuits often melt links, blow fuses and trip circuit breakers.

Diagnosing such a situation requires placing a circuit protection device with “short finders” capable of handling excessive currents flowing within a circuit. If you’re not in possession of one, wire a sealed-beam headlight electric bulb with two leads, and attach several male and spade terminals. When accessing materials for such an adventure, be sure to check out online resources like SWengines for additional information.

Understanding power distribution outlines may be difficult, and descriptions tend to differ with each diagram. It’s important to locate solid black dots, as they dictate a fuse upon a system’s circuit. Once the fuse is located, and once it’s been determined as a problem source, make a list. Then, disconnect one system at a time to slowly remedy the problem. Several wiring diagrams provide several system circuit lists pertaining to fuses, and some provide a diagram of actual wiring. If the latter is provided, be careful when making choices, and don’t accidentally miss a circuit connected to a fuse.

For more information on diagnosing a short circuit:


Get Prepared: Emergency Car Kit for Winter

Preparedness is key!  You don’t expect emergencies, but being prepared for one sure gives you a sense of security.  Whether you live near an earthquake line, blizzard territory, twister zones or away from all that where you don’t ever see snow; these items are still great to have in your car.  And who knows if someone’s car engine may break down and you will be there to help!


car engine

These items are simple, unexpected, and you can purchase them all at Wal-Mart.


Check out this link that gives you more visuals of these items and how you can store them in a storage tub for your car trunk.  These items are simple, unexpected,  and you can purchase them all at Wal-Mart.


1.  Non-clumping Kitty Liter.  Less than a buck for a 7 lb bag, this stuff can save you if you’re stuck on ice or in the snow.  Throw it under your tires to give traction so pull out.

2.  Jumper Cables. This is a necessity to have no matter what the season.  You can find these for less than ten bucks.

3. Fix-a-Flat Spray.  To get you by in an emergency.

4. Emergency Blanket.  Look for these in the camping section.

5. Hand Warmers.  These are the best things ever.

6. First Aid Kit.  Another total must to have with you for obvious reason.

7. LED Flashlight.  Get one that doesn’t require batteries, but has a crank to generate the power it needs.  They come with a steady light or a flashing light that you can use in an emergency.

That’s not so hard, is it?  This is a pretty good winter car kit that you can find the items for under forty bucks.  Put them in a tub or even in a back pack.  You can also add to it with things like:


  • Energy / Protein Bars
  • Tire Chains
  • Water (bottled)
  • Ice Scraper, Snow Shovel/Brush
  • Paper Towels / Rags
  • Window Washer Solvent (Winter Formula)


Put it on your “To-do” list and get one of these in each of your cars for this winter.  Who knows, you could save a life, maybe even your own!  Safe travels from Southwest Engines.